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Phobia and Classical Conditioning by Bora Baykal

Many of us have phobias like fear of heights (Acrophobia), fear of insects (Entomophobia), or claustrophobia, and more. I have one too. I have Acrophobia but, you know, it is just I am scared when there is not enough blockage at high points. Some would think that is nonsense and these fears can be overcome so easily. That is reasonable at some point but there are certain history and memories that secretly cause these “nonsense” fears. I am not making them up, by checking the study which I will go through a few minutes later you can have more understanding on this topic.

Primarily, let’s learn what the term “classical conditioning” means. It is a type of learning and response when our conditioned stimulus is matched with the unconditioned stimulus. It is like associating what you know by natural causes (independent) with what you learned by unnatural causes. There is a lot of studies about this classical conditioning but my favorite and the most known is called “ The Little Albert Experiment”. The Little Albert Experiment conducted by John B. Watson and one of his graduate students at John Hopkins University in 1920. As you can understand from the name of the experiment, our hero in this study is Little Albert. He was a nine-month toddler at this time. The professor and his graduate student had predicted that they could change Albert’s response to a certain thing by using this idea. The experiment was pretty straight-forward at some point. However, I am just not sure about using these kids in these tests. I mean there are a lot of animals that are also used as test subjects for particular tests and I am not accepting that either. Unfortunately, having these kids may cause some psychological problems but I think the professor and his team hopefully considered that and found a way to solve this problem. That could be my new writing’s topic but let me give you the details of this experiment more. Little Albert was allowed to play with a white laboratory rat which was placed intentionally. While Albert was playing with it, Watson and his graduate were making sounds, shouting that could cause Little Albert to cry and to be frightened. I think the experimenter team was trying to consubstantiate fury objects with a loud voice which naturally causes a nine-month toddler to be scared. In the next steps of the study, furry objects such as; a rabbit, a furry dog, and a sealskin coat were placed near Little Albert. As the professor and his graduate student had expected, Little Albert cried and became distressed while he was with these objects. Although they couldn’t prove everything about “classical conditioning” in this experiment, they made a certain point by causing Albert to have this uneasy feeling and being around with furry objects at the same time. Of course, we cannot interpret what I am going to tell next but that and similar experiments might be a blueprint for us. There is a certain possibility which our phobias are caused by these kinds of memories. For example, if we have a memory of being in a narrow room or a place in dark, that could be the reason for our claustrophobia.

By the way, these are just my predictions on this topic. There is no problem if you don’t think in the same way. However, I believe I made a good point by explaining what “classical conditioning” is and what “The Little Albert Experiment” is.

Hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions, you can type it down at the comments part. You can always subscribe to our e-mail list and have a notification when new writing is published. Stay tuned for more.


- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Albert_experiment

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